By Geoffrey Smith
Investing.com — U.S. stocks tumbled again at the opening Friday as the number of confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus topped 100,000.
Investors fled equities and other risk assets with increasing urgency, pushing the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury bond down to an all-time low of 0.69% at one stage.
The Dow had already fallen by 970 points on Thursday.
The release of data showing the U.S. labor market in rude health in February was largely ignored, given that markets have put an increasingly narrow focus on the spread of the virus and the measures likely to be needed to contain it. The economy added 273,000 jobs in February, far more than the 175,000 expected. January’s hiring was also revised up.
“Measures suspending travel, closing schools and enforcing temporary business closures and an increase in working from home all risk material economic disruption in the short term,” said Mark Dowding, chief investment officer with BlueBay Asset Management, in a weekly post. “With fear and some degree of panic driving sentiment, this can be further exacerbated, leading to a dangerous combination of both supply and demand shocks to the global economy.”
Data compiled by John Hopkins University showed that there are now 233 confirmed cases in the U.S., with 14 deaths recorded, of which 12 were in a single county in Washington state.
Earlier, President Donald Trump cancelled a planned visit to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. The White House said in a statement that Trump, who has called the virus a “Democratic hoax” and repeatedly compared it a routine seasonal flu outbreak, “does not want to interfere with the CDC’s mission to protect the health and welfare of their people and the agency.”
Among individual stocks, JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) stock fell 6.3% after the bank confirmed that chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon had had to undergo heart surgery. The bank will be run jointly by its two co-chief operating officers while Dimon recovers.
JPMorgan stock has already fallen some 17% over the past two weeks, along with many other bank stocks. High market volatility has led to the cancellation of many deals, while the Federal Reserve’s emergency interest rate cut will put fresh pressure on lending margins, allowing homeowners and consumers to refinance debt at lower levels.
Crude oil futures, meanwhile, were off their intraday lows but still down over 3%, after earlier falling as much as 5% on reports that Russia would refuse OPEC’s proposal of a further 1.5 million barrel-a-day cut in oil output.
Stocks – Dow Opens Down 740 Points as Virus Outweighs Jobs Report
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